Peter Mulvey

Peter Mulvey

Ten Thousand Mornings

Signature Sounds

I’m not Joe Folkie or anything, but I can tell when someone’s good, and Peter Mulvey is freakin’ amazing. This guitarist/singer/songwriter is huge in acoustic folk circles, and rightly so; his honest voice and technical virtuosity are pretty rare in this pre-fabricated crappy little music world of ours.

And this album might be his greatest statement yet. It’s all covers — or, as Mulvey would have it, interpretations of songs by other people — but he brings something new to just about all of them, whether it’s the funky folk jam of Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” or the bleak Randy Newman chamber-pop piece “In Germany Before the War.” His take on Los Lobos’ “Two Janes” makes me want to go buy Kiko, and his closing version of Dar Williams’ “The Ocean” makes me want to go buy everything she’s ever done.

But wait — that isn’t all. This was recorded live, in a subway station, with only a couple of occasional guests; you can hear the trains coming into and leaving the station on some tracks (get it? tracks? subway? oh, never mind). And it’s not just ANY subway station, either: it’s the Davis Square T stop, in Somerville, Massachusetts, which I’ve been to about a million times. It’s the coolest, creepiest, most beautiful subway station in the U.S. (long-ass escalators, modern-art bas-relief faces and hands everywhere), and you need to see it before you die. If you do, and if you’re really lucky, Mulvey will be there, playing “Oliver’s Army” or “Stranded in a Limousine” for you. That’s how you’ll know you’re okay with the universe.

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